The Dallas Mavericks showcase the difference between teams competing and team's not

Dallas ran around and dunked all over the Jazz on Thursday night
Mar 21, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA;  Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (23) shoots as Dallas Mavericks
Mar 21, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (23) shoots as Dallas Mavericks / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

On a night when the NCAA men's basketball tournament kicked into full gear, including some big upsets, the Utah Jazz continued their road trip against the Dallas Mavericks, who were tied with the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns, hoping to move up from 8th to 6th in the Western Conference playoff race.

The Jazz played Cinderella early on, taking an 8-1 lead just under 3 minutes into the game, before Dallas responded with a 9-2 run to get things even around the mid-point of the 1st quarter. The Jazz ended up leading 27-26 after 12 minutes.

In the 2nd quarter, the Jazz went cold, going scoreless for nearly 4 minutes until Lauri Markkanen hit 2 free throws at the 8:22 mark to cut Dallas' lead to six (35-29). A couple of Walker Kessler dunks later and the Jazz were closing the gap, trailing just 42-39. And then Luka Doncic took over, scoring 8 points during an 11-3 Dallas run to close out the half as Dallas led 53-42 at the break.

The 3rd quarter was rough for the Jazz, as Dallas outscored them 14-6 by the 7-minute mark, and the game became chippy and the Jazz got frustrated with the officiating. Keyonte George and Omer Yurtseven did their best to keep the Jazz in the game, combining for 13 points as the Jazz trailed 83-73 going into the 4th.

Dallas went on a 17-7 run to open the 4th, opening a 20-point lead with just over 5 minutes left in the game. The Jazz went back to their starting 5 and closed the gap with a 15-6 run, before Dallas closed things out, winning 113-97.

Not a lot of positives out of this game, the 18 turnovers were reminiscent of the early-season struggles the Jazz had with taking care of the ball. Dallas had 27 fast-break points on the night.

The Jazz's 3-point shooting (4/30, 13.3%) was bad. And they seemed to become less aggressive with every miss.

Lauri Markkanen led the Jazz with 21 points, but didn't look quite right - he struggled much of the night on the move, perhaps still suffering the lingering effects from his recent injuries. Dallas, as many teams have been doing, played Lauri physically and took him off his game for stretches. He needs to respond and rise above this to reach that next level of stardom in the NBA.

Collin Sexton had 20 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists, while Walker Kessler had 14 points and 9 rebounds in 27 minutes.

The Jazz remain in the Lone Star State to play the Houston Rockets on Saturday, before returning home for a Monday rematch with the Dallas Mavericks.

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